The Late Night Bites is a newly minted duo blending indie pop, jazz, and psychedelic rock into a cohesive live-looping performance. Their music reinvisions the solo work of singer-songwriter and pianist, Fay Lamour, with the help of multi-instrumentalist and producer, Ryan Stopforth.

Right now, Fay and Ryan are on the road, taking the Late Night Bites on an inaugural countrywide tour through Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape before returning home to the Western Cape.

We caught up with the duo before they left to play the first shows in Bloemfontein. Sitting down at A Touch of Madness in Observatory, we talked about the evolution of Fay’s sound, the close calls in getting the tour off the ground, and how doing things backwards seems to be working out.

Why not?

Fay has been performing and releasing music solo under the Fay Lamour name since 2020. She started by exploring 1920s stylings in her 2020 albums Forty Second Street and Blue to Yellow, but heads into 2023 with quite a diverse discography.

Fay released the Off-Season EP in 2021, containing classical piano reimaginings of her other songs. In collaboration with Mick Hudson, she also put out the lo-fi EP, Let’s Get Lost, in 2021, where her delicate vocals are a great match for the genre.

Fay has featured on two singles from Bloemfontein’s folk-infused Safety First! – ‘Outer Space’ in 2021 and ‘Chicken on the table’ in 2023.

Ryan is no slouch himself, forming part of several different projects and bands. He has a solo outfit under the name Fat Ghandi and provides keys, guitar, and backing vocals to Hartleyvale. Ryan is currently working with the indie-pop artist, Tanaka, in the lead-up to his first EP launch. He is also part of The Loneliest Monk, a group that puts on jazz jam nights at Evol on the first and third Thursdays of every month.

The Late Night Bites
“It’s all felt like a really natural progression,” Fay tells us. PHOTO: James Browning

Ryan and Fay had already begun collaborating when Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) called her up to do a live looping performance that would nudge the two towards their current direction.

“It was so random because I just did one video in Bloemfontein which was live looping and I just wanted to try it out. And then all of a sudden this guy from RSG called [because] he thought that’s what I was doing. That’s not at all what I was doing,” Fay laughs.

“So we put one or two tracks together and it was sounding pretty cool and we’re [thinking], hey, why not pursue this a little?” Ryan adds.

Do it yourself

Earlier in the year, Fay started planning a South African tour to say goodbye to the project, with the plan to get a job and do music as a hobby. After gigs kept falling through, Fay and Ryan found a promoter to help put the tour together.

“We were going to focus on the music and [they were] going to take us along every step of the way — book our accommodations, tell us not to worry about things. Then that fell through literally a week before we had to leave,” Ryan explains.

The Late Night Bites
As part of his freelancing work, Ryan recently played for a theatrical run of Footloose. PHOTO: James Browning

“Oh yeah, last Thursday,” Fay adds. The band scrambled to call in contacts and lock in gigs, and in the chaos, Fay started to feel that they needed a change. “All these promoters were like, but what’s your band name? I just got this feeling like I don’t want to be Fay anymore,” she explains.

The duo wanted to incorporate “bite” into the new name for their collaboration, inspired by the lack of results for the term when searching for Instagram Reel music. After crossing off Goodbye Bites, Goodnight Bites and Midnight Bites, they came to Late Night Bites.

“So that all happened in an hour. And now everything is just flowing so nicely. We’re getting so many tour dates,” Fay says. Ryan and Fay left for Bloemfontein on 18 March, and will be playing their way through Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape before returning home.

Along the way, Late Night Bites will be playing the three-day Music and Machines Easter Festival in Ladysmith. “[The organiser] was so excited. She’s like, ‘Wow, a Cape Town band!’ It’s really cute,” Fay tells us. “It’s a good stroke to the ego,” Ryan adds.

Projecting the energy

While Fay was very much in charge of directing the music before, Ryan has helped bring a different attitude and perspective as the duo crafts a new sound for the Late Night Bites.

“We’re a bit more rock and roll now — a bit more. [Ryan] is also a part of the music now. It’s not just what I want to say,” Fay tells us. While fine-tuning their music, Fay is making sure that the duo’s visuals also add to their aesthetic.

“It’s definitely about fashion. It’s always going to be a look. The personality of the band is also like, I don’t know, old-school rock and roll but with a modern twist. Not the leather jackets but the sequins” Fay tells us.

The Late Night Bites
Late Night Bites in Woodstock’s Old Castle Brewery. PHOTO: Supplied/Late Night Bites

“If there’s like a colour, it would definitely be dark blue. Like dark, moody, jazzy blue,” Ryan pitches in. Alongside their sequined jackets and sunglasses, the Late Night Bites bring plenty of gear onto the stage with them.

Drum pads, guitar, bass, keyboard and a couple of MIDI devices form the base for their looping layers. “I’ve always been interested in getting into the technology side of music. And this has been the perfect opportunity,” Ryan says. 

Ryan tells us that playing live is about cooperation and dialogue, an ebb and flow rather than a rote routine. “We improvise and mess around a little. It’s all over the place,” Ryan continues.

“It’s all over the place,” Fay echoes with a smile. They recently put together a short promo video for one of their newer songs, ‘Where and When’, which you can check out below to get a taste of what the Late Night Bites are cooking.

Fay and Ryan are excited about the chance to spend some time on stage bringing their music to life. “That’s the final part of the creative process, and it’s beautiful. Being in that moment with people is just unexplainable. It takes all of your focus — there’s not one time I’m playing and I’m in my head thinking about paying for parking,” Ryan tells us.

“I love it too, because it feels like I go out of my body. Especially when it’s a lot of people, it feels like you’re the energy. You need to project to them, and help one another have a beautiful time,” Fay adds.

Doing it backwards

When their tour is over, the Late Night Bites will be spending time in Cape Town’s Sonic Nursery studio to record an album and finally release their first single. “We’re doing everything backwards […] But it’s working so far,” Fay says.

Named after their upcoming album, the ‘Make Friends With Your Problems’ tour kicked off in Bloemfontein on 23 March. The Late Night Bites are currently playing around Joburg and Pretoria before they move off to Ladysmith to play an Easter festival from 7 to 9 April.

The route will then take them to Durban via Howick, before heading back home through East London, Port Alfred, Kenton, and Grahamstown. They’ll be touring throughout April – you can check out all the dates on Instagram.

If you’re in the area, you can catch the Late Night Bites in Pretoria on 5 April and Joburg on 6 April, before they start heading out towards the east coast.

Author

​​I write about the tech sector in hopes we can find human-centred alternatives to the mess we’ve made for ourselves. I get involved in the music scene because leaving passion unpursued is a sin. When my feet aren’t busy on the sokkie floor, you can find me chasing silver linings.

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